Personalize Your Strategic Plan: Meet the Needs of All Learners Through a Personalized Strategic Vision


The following is a guest post by Dr. Richard Schroeder.

Many sayings show how important it is for an organization to have a strategic plan. 

Without a strategy, a goal is only a wish. 

A map is only useful if you know where you are.

Without a strategic vision in place, a strategic plan is useless. 

All roads lead nowhere if you do not know where you are heading.

Some argue that alignment within their organization is one of the most significant obstacles school and district administrators face. The daily struggle is evident in the school systems across the nation, where a multitude of supports, staff, solutions, and professional development options are implemented without sufficient consideration for their overall fit and impact. Leaders are now more obligated than ever to establish a strategic plan based on an instructional vision that serves as a roadmap for the organization’s future.

A strategic plan always aligns with vision and mission.

When developing a strategic strategy, leaders have a plethora of alternatives. Numerous individuals initiate their leadership voyage by “continuing” the plan established by their predecessors. Several districts have agreements with one of the larger consulting firms that implement an “out of the box” planning template that disregards the instructional vision of the leader and the district’s unique requirements. Others employ a consulting firm that “dictates” a planning process predicated on the consultant’s or company’s vision (e.g., an equity-based framework) rather than supporting the district/community based on their requirements.

When conducting strategic planning with a district team, I have consistently pondered the following question: If a personalized approach is optimal for pupils, why should the strategic planning process not be personalized for each district? Ultimately, shouldn’t each educational institution accommodate learners’ diverse learning requirements and preferences? This is where the power of diverging from methods that concentrate on a single approach is found. In their book Personalize, Eric Sheninger and Nicki Slaugh disclose the following: 

Personalized learning compromises an array of strategies where all students get what they need when and where they need it to learn. It’s not about more work. On the contrary, it is about maximizing the time with students and prioritizing their needs, resulting in better work.

The same approach to personalization should be implemented when formulating a strategic plan for your organization.  I’ve learned to honor the organization’s demands by guiding the planning process through three separate phases rather than a preplanned template.  There are the following:

  • Collaborative Learning: Using data analysis and examination in a group setting to formulate questions and establish priorities.
  • Facilitated Collaborative Planning: Facilitating a group’s vision, mission, values, and top priorities.
  • Stakeholder Test Drive and Implementation: Sending the plan’s findings or draft to relevant stakeholder groups for comments or adjustments.

Below is an example of the finished product from a post project where I helped a district with this process.

Consider your possibilities while developing the strategy to propel the organization forward and the road map to lead the way. For students, customization works best, and any organization thinking about the future should agree.

Dr. Richard Schroeder is the Chief Education Officer of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.   He previously served as a partner in an education leadership consulting group, a multi-national k-12 publishing company, and various district and school leadership positions.  He can be reached at:

If you would like to learn more about strategic planning services through Aspire Change EDU reach out at


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